Canoe Polo is one of the eight disciplines of canoeing pursued in the UK, known simply as "polo" by those who play. Polo combines paddling and ball handling skills with an exciting contact team game, where tactics and positional play are as important as the speed and fitness of the individual athletes.
The game requires excellent teamwork and promotes both general canoeing skills as well as a range of other techniques unique to the sport. Two teams, each with five players on the pitch at any one time (and up to three substitutes), compete to score goals in their opponent's net which is suspended 2 metres above the water. The ball can be thrown by hand, or flicked with the paddle. Pitches can be set up in swimming pools or any stretch of flat water.
Boats are specifically designed for Polo with rounded and padded ends. Paddles are very light weight and designed with both pulling power and ball control in mind. Body protection, helmets and faceguards are all compulsory.
There are internationally agreed rules for the game and World and European Championships are held every two years. Great Britain is one of the world's foremost nations, with the British Women current World Champions. British Men have held the top spot twice since the year 2000 and our Under 21s for both men and women have both finished within the top three. The next Championships are in 2012.
Baldock & District Canoe Club has two active teams. Our Open team has comfortably stayed up in Division 3 for another year and is currently restructuring for the next Season starting in September. The Open league is generally for men although we have two ladies competing in our existing team. We are also looking to enter another team into the National Divisions starting in Division 4, as we have a number of people, young and old, keen to play and compete.
Our Ladies team is doing well and this year finished in the top half of Division 2 of the Ladie's League, their best finish yet as a team. Most of the team also follow other disciplines of paddling, whitewater, play, and a strong following of slalom and they play polo as something to do out of season to keep their skills up and to work on their fitness levels.
We are always keen to have new people come along and try and we usually play polo on the last Sunday of the month on our usual club night. We also have a number of people train weekly for those that are really keen.